Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…

I frequently am asked about an employee’s refusal to sign some document: a written warning, a performance review, a job description, etc.

What to do? What do you do when the employee looks you squarely in the eye and says “no,” when asked/directed to sign?

Many will advise to simply have another manager ‘witness’ the event or document, and sign as a witness. Others will say that signing is just not that big of a deal in the first place.

Well, it is and it isn’t.

Signing is seldom a process deal-breaker; in other words, if your process doesn’t have a requirement for signing a lot of these things, their lack of signature likely won’t bring about an early Armageddon.

Another view, however, should you have a requirement in place for a signature:

This simply isn’t how good, dependable employees behave. Signing an acknowledgment is simply an adult action that can be required by the company. I’m referring here to notifications and receipt, not to agreement, per se.

Tell the employee to sign, or go home. Their lack of signature — when not stating agreement to something against their will — is clear and simple insubordinate conduct. And even more important, they are just being a pain-in-the-butt employee for no good reason.

I don’t know about you, but I have enough trouble making it through the day without regularly interacting with someone who is intentionally trying to frustrate me.

This isn’t a series of negotiations, it’s a workplace, and it has conditions. The request is reasonable; reasonable employees will sign, and unreasonable employees need to be shown the door.

But that’s just me…


Kevin Berchelmann

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